CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF GIDEON On March 18, Texas marked the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright with a presentation on the right to counsel at the Texas Capitol. Panelists discussed the lessons learned from Gideon, the progress made since the decision, and the path forward to improve protection for indigent defendants. The audience also heard testimony from seven individuals who were exonerated after being convicted and sentenced for crimes they did not commit. Sen. Rodney Ellis, author of the Texas Fair Defense Act of 2001, co-sponsored the event with the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and the State Bar of Texas. In conjunction with the event, the State Bar of Texas released a video about the Gideon decision for the Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! civics education program, which provides videos, case summaries, multimedia, and additional links about landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases required for the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills test. (For more information, visit texasbar.com/civics.) Above, from left: program presenter Deborah Leff, with the U.S. Department of Justice; professor Bruce Jacob, who represented the State of Florida in Gideon v. Wainwright; Lydia Clay-Jackson, president of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers; Buck Files, president of the State Bar of Texas, and the Hon. Sharon Keller, presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and chair of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. SUPREME COURT VISITS AUSTIN COLLEGE The Supreme Court of Texas heard oral arguments on Feb. 26 at Austin College in Sherman. Hundreds of students, lawyers, and members of the community attended as part of the Kenneth W. Street Law Symposium, coordinated through the efforts of State Bar president and Austin College alumnus and trustee Buck Files, the Pre-Law Society of Austin College and faculty advisor Frank Rohmer, the “L” Law Association, and the Grayson County Bar Association. After the arguments, members of the court answered questions from the audience about the selection of justices and the day-to-day operations of the court. State Bar Chair of the Board Frank Stevenson and Judicial Section Chair Judge Alfonso Charles, along with Kevin White and Thomas Hall, were honored by the Austin College “L” Association and the Austin College Pre-Law Society for their contributions to the legal profession and to Austin College. Above, from left: Supreme Court of Texas Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, President of Austin College and Texas Bar Foundation Trustee Marjorie Hass, Supreme Court Justice Paul W. Green, Buck Files, and Frank Stevenson. A Lifetime of Learning Dallas attorney George “Tex” Quesada, of Sommerman & Quesada, L.L.P., is the 2012 recipient of the Gene Cavin Award for Excellence in continuing legal education. He accepted the award at the Advanced Trial Strategies course in New Orleans. A frequent and well-regarded CLE speaker, Quesada has served on several State Bar committees, including the local Grievance Committee. He is a past president of the Texas Trial Lawyers and the Dallas Trial Lawyers associations. In addition, Quesada teaches Sunday school and is a longtime supporter of local charities. Established in 1989, the Gene Cavin Award recognizes long-term participation in State Bar CLE activities. It is named for the Professional Development Program founder, who brought the program to international prominence during his service from 1964 to 1987. Above, from left: Tex Quesada and Charlie Wilson of Dallas. Crash Course On Feb. 16, Baylor Law School hosted its annual People’s Law School, a free half-day series of courses designed to educate people about their legal rights. Participants took up to three courses from the 18 offered, which were taught by volunteer attorneys and legal experts. This year, more than 250 individuals attended seminars focused on the Second Amendment in addition to consumer rights, landlord/tenant rights, retirement planning, wills, small businesses, elder law, employment law, and family law. Corporate Leadership Congratulations pro bono volunteers! You made it happen. ExxonMobil Corporation is the 2013 recipient of the ABA Section of Litigation Corporate Counsel Committee Pro Bono Award. Rob Johnson and Susan Sanchez accepted the award at a special luncheon during a CLE seminar in Hollywood, Fla., on Feb. 15. Fulbright & Jaworski and Hunton & Williams nominated ExxonMobil for the award, which is designed to showcase noteworthy corporate pro bono programs as a way to thank companies for their pro bono commitments and to inspire other companies to follow in their worthy colleagues’ footsteps. Past recipients of the committee’s award include Northrop Grumman; Caterpillar; Monsanto; Dow Corning; McDonald’s; William Wise (of Analog Devices); Sears, Roebuck and Co.; 3M; BellSouth; Johnson & Johnson; Exelon; Merck & Co.; and Aetna Inc. WORLD AFFAIRS Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize winner, addressed the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth on March 15. The council is a nonprofit that brings global awareness and cross-cultural understanding to the Metroplex via nearly 100 programs a year focused on international business, culture, politics, and foreign policy. In a questionand- answer presentation facilitated by Dallas attorney Talmage Boston, Kissinger, who served as the national security advisor for both Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, shared his thoughts on American foreign policy past and present. Right: Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger. Speak Out Nearly 450 Dallas ISD and Houston ISD fourth- and fifth-grade students participated in the Annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competitions this year, which are hosted, presented, and sponsored by Gardere Wynne Sewell, L.L.P. The competition was created to pay tribute to the late civil rights leader by highlighting the cultural diversity of the community and encouraging the writing and presentation skills of elementary school students. The final competition was held Jan. 18, 2013, in Dallas at the Majestic Theatre and in Houston at the historic 145-year-old Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. Chinelo King, a fourth grader at John Neely Bryan Elementary, was awarded first place at the Dallas competition while Curtis Babers, a fourth-grade student at Lockhart Elementary, secured first place in Houston. Above, from left: Event chair Claude Treece of Houston, Curtis Babers, and Stephen Moll of Houston. Access to Justice The Equal Access to Justice campaign, an initiative to provide free legal assistance to low-income families in the Dallas area, had a record-breaking year. The Dallas Bar Association and the Legal Aid of Northwest Texas announced the campaign raised $834,000 for the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, which helps indigent families in Dallas. Right: Chair of the Equal Access to Justice campaign Michael K. Hurst. For the Kids Nearly 200 judges and leaders in education met in Austin Feb. 19 for the first Foster Youth and Education Summit, a two-day event dedicated to helping foster youth succeed in school. Studies show that children in foster care are more likely to repeat a grade and be suspended or expelled from school. The event put a spotlight on the many ways that schools, courts, and social workers can help. The summit was sponsored by the Texas Supreme Court’s Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth, and Families, in coordination with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Association of School Boards, Casey Family Programs, and Texas CASA, among others. Above, from left: Justice Eva Guzman, chair of the Children’s Commission, and Tina Amberboy, executive director of the Children’s Commission. Don’t Text and Drive The Houston law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend has started an awareness and prevention campaign called Text Free Texas to publicize the dangers of texting while driving, an issue that has garnered nationwide scrutiny as more and more people divert their attention from the street to the screen. Sending or reading a text while behind the wheel can take a driver’s eyes off the road for almost five seconds—enough time to travel the length of two football fields when going 55 mph. In fact, if a person is texting while driving, he is 23 times more likely to be in an accident. In Texas, it is against the law for drivers younger than 18 to use a cell phone—including texting—while driving. To find out more about the campaign and learn about prevention tactics, join the discussion at Google+ #txtfreetx.
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